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This is what I would have asked Talib Kweli…

There aren’t that many opportunities to use future perfect tense any more, but by the time you read this column, I will have seen Talib Kweli’s concert Live at the Knight at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami- Dade County.

I had hoped that I might have the chance to interview Kweli and RES, but his people and my people — well you know how it goes. Gino Campodonico from the Arsht Center went out of his way — deeply out of his way — to arrange an interview with Kweli and collaborator RES from their new duo Idle Warship. Now I owe everyone an apology because my work and home life got in the way — I missed the email AND the phone call.

In Moment of Clarity from Jay-Z’s splendid Black Album, J-Hova says, “If skills sold, truth be told/I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.” In Kweli’s track Ghetto Show from the Beautiful Struggle, Kweli responds by stating, “If lyrics sold, then truth be told/I’d probably be just as rich and famous as Jay Z.”

So I’m left to describe what I would have asked had I had the esteemed young brother on the line.

Me: Sorry I missed the call.

Kweli: I should hang up now.

Me: Sorry, sorry, sorry. You have been doing your thing for a while now? Is this what you expected? What is happening with lyrics these days?

Kweli:Well, kids change. They love hiphop, Sesame Street, Big Bird, and get into poetry slams. On the other hand, texting, Twitter and Facebook are not the most grammatically accurate platforms.

Me: How much credit does your mother get for you being a good lyricist? She’s an English professor right? Your father also has the academic-university background right? Kweli: Are you talking about my momma? Truthfully, I was raised well. Me: You’ve worked with everyone and they with you. Jay Z, Nas, Mos Def, Common, KRS, the Roots, Kanye, Mary J. Blige, the Neptunes. What’s the vibe like with so many successful people? Who is the boss when the talented get together?

Kweli: Bruce Springsteen is the Boss.

Me: In 2004, you recorded The Beautiful Struggle. Does the struggle remain beautiful? Do the inspirations remain?

Kweli: The struggle remains a struggle for millions. It was beautiful for me, so I want to remain optimistic.

Me: How does the Yankee hat go over in LA? Have you been converted? Does your family prefer California?

Kweli: In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do. But, look at that mountain, look at that tree. I love LA.

Me: Talk to me about the MIA. Isn’t the Knight a gorgeous facility?

Kweli: Lebron, Crockett, Tubbs, Anna Kournikova, Dwyane Wade, Gloria Estefan, Pitbull, Ricky Martin, sun, sand, graffiti – hundred-thousand-dollar cars, e’rybody got ‘em. The Knight is a blessing. I know we don’t need another hero, but Adrienne Arsht is a hero.

That’s what I would have asked Talib Kweli had I not been a working man with responsibilities. So by the time you read this, hopefully, I will have enjoyed last Friday’s concert immensely. Future perfect tense lives! Again, there’s always next time for an interview. Given the Arsht’s fine upcoming schedule, I am going to beg Gino to schedule a moment way in advance with bassist Esperanza Spalding, scheduled to play on April 19, 2013. Then, I will be able to write in present tense.

Carl Rachelson is a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He has a Masters Degree in the Humanities and is an English teacher at Palmer Trinity School. He may be contacted by email at crachelson@palmertrinity.org

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